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quod pro nobis traditum est

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Holiness - divine creation and gift

"As in the case of all the apostles except for Peter, James, and John, we are faced with men [Simon and Jude] who are really unknown, and we are struck by the fact that their holiness is simply taken to be a gift of Christ . . . It is a reminder that we cannot receive too often. Holiness does not depend on human merit, culture, personality, effort, or achievement. It is entirely God's creation and gift . . . only God can create his divine life in human beings."
(http://www.americancatholic.org)

Monday, October 29, 2007

St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles




28 October
























This year the Festival of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles falls on Sunday. In the Lutheran tradition it is common to transfer the observance of Reformation Day (Oct. 31) to this Sunday. Thus many churches will not even hear or know of the festival that is set aside for these two apostles.

Little is known about St. Simon and St. Jude except that they are listed in the gospels and Acts together with the other apostles, including the greater known Peter, James, and John. In contrast, there is more written about Martin Luther than any other individual after Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

The transferring of the observance of Reformation to October 28 seems to underline the reality that Simon and Jude are not well known. One thing that is known about them. The Lord chose them to be His apostles and they followed Him. So even though it is unfortunate that their festival is set aside more often than not, and that little is known about them as individuals, they are indeed well-known.

. . . who in the multitude of Your saints did surround us with so great a cloud of witnesses that we, rejoicing in their fellowship, may run with patience the race that is set before us and, together with them, may receive the crown of glory that does not fade away
- Proper Preface - All Saints

Thursday, October 25, 2007

books in the mail



von Schenk
is ordered and should arrive in the mail soon. The CTQ book review arrived today. Read on . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Holy Works

Good works should be done because God has commanded them in order to exercise our faith, to give testimony, and to render thanks. For these reasons good works must necessarily be done . . . Because of faith they are nevertheless holy and divine works, sacrifices, and the reign of Christ, whereby he shows his rule before the world. For in these works he sanctifies hearts and suppresses the devil. And in order to keep the Gospel among men, he visibly pits the witness of the saints against the rule of the devil; in our weakness he displays his strength. The dangers, labors, and sermons of the apostle Paul, Athanasius, Augustine, and other teachers of the church are holy works, true sacrifices acceptable to God . . .

We feel the same way about every work done in the most humble occupation and in private life. Through these works Christ shows his victory over the devil, just as the distribution of alms by the Corinthians was a holy work (1 Cor. 16:1), a sacrifice, and a battle of Christ against the devil, who is determined that nothing happens to the praise of God. To disparage works like the confession of doctrine, afflictions, works of charity, and the mortifications of the flesh would be to disparage the outward administration of Christ's rule among men . . . We teach that good works are meritorious--not for the forgiveness of sins, grace, or justification (for we obtain these only by faith) but for other physical and spiritual rewards in this life and in that which is to come, as Paul says (1 Cor. 3:8), "Each shall receive his wages according to his labor." Therefore there will be different rewards for different labors.

But the forgiveness of sins is the same and equal to all, as Christ is one, and it is offered freely to all who believe that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake. The forgiveness of sins and justification are received only by faith, not because of any works . . . Eternal life belongs to the justified, according to the saying, "Those whom he justified he also glorified" (Rom. 8:30).

- Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Art. IV, pars.189-196

Daily Office

Pope Benedict XVI discusses the practice of "lectio divina" and its relation to listening to the Word of God. He also talks about what it means to teach the faith.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tagged

I have been "tagged" by Pastor Asburry. This seems to be some kind of tradition that includes something like succession. It appears that I am to tell 7 true items about myself so here they are:

1) While my family lived in Leadville, Colorado, I was born at a hospital in Denver. With all due respect to Oregon natives, including my beloved wife, there seems to be a misunderstanding in the blogosphere as to where "God's country" actually exists. We enjoyed a visit there this past summer after a few years absence. Colorado, that is ...

2) Third of seven children (oldest and youngest are girls with five of us boys in between). This makes me kind of a middle child, a peace maker, one that gets bored when everyone else is getting their dander up. This also can give me the appearance of being rather boring - a tool that is quite effective. (After all, one can't compete with the 1st child and the younger children always get away with more than their older siblings ever did :)

3) We lived in many, many places growing up but most of my childhood years were in the Philippines and New Hampshire. I graduated from high school in Arizona (while living in New Mexico), college in Nebraska and seminary in St. Louis. Vicarage was in Miami with three months of language training in Mexico.

4) I met my beloved wife in Milwaukee and our two daughters were born here. They are ages 12 and 7 and are musically involved (like Mom!). We make the pilgrimage to St. Louis on an annual basis to visit her family. My parents live in New Mexico.

5) My hobbies include reading books (an understatement) studying Latin, and keeping "to-do" lists. Theology and Church History books are my favorites. Studying Latin is both a review and an attempt to learn more (I had 3 years in High School). I told you I was boring. . .

6) My favorite baseball teams are the Milwaukee Brewers and the Boston Red Sox (from the days growing up in New Hampshire; I have been to Fenway Park!). My favorite football team is the Green Bay Packers.

7) Finally, I enjoy classical music, which recently went "underground" in Milwaukee. The only classical music station in town changed its format suddenly and became a jazz station. Now, finding and listening to classical music is something one does by surfing the net or listening to CDs.

Now that I think I understand this "tagging" thing I will tag Pastor Weedon.

gratia universalis

For a number of years my father, Rev. Doug May of Socorro, NM has provided reading excerpts from the Lutheran Confessions that correspond to the church year like the one posted below. This and other readings are available here.

The following reading, which is chosen for the Last Sunday of the Church Year (3 Year Series), is timely in that it also applies to the Gospel reading for the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity in the Historic Lectionary (Matthew 22:1-14).

A READING FROM THE BOOK OF CONCORD
LAST SUNDAY OF THE CHURCH YEAR
FORMULA OF CONCORD, EPITOME,
ARTICLE XI: GOD'S ETERNAL ELECTION

"Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:14). This does not mean that God is unwilling to save everybody. But the reason some are not saved is as follows: They do not listen to God's Word at all, but willfully despise it, plug their ears, and harden their hearts. In this way they block the ordinary way (Luke 16:29-31) for the Holy Spirit so He cannot perform His work in them. Or, when they have heard God's Word, they make light of it and ignore it. Their wickedness is responsible for this, not God or His election (2 Peter 2:1-3; Luke 11:49-52; Heb.12:25-26).

A Christian should concern himself with the article about God's eternal election only as far as it has been revealed in God's Word. His Word presents Christ to us as the Book of Life, which He opens and reveals to us by the preaching of the Holy Gospel, as it is written in Romans 8:30, "Those whom He predestined He also called." The Father has determined (Eph.1:11-12) that He would save no one except those who know His Son Christ and truly believe in Him. Other thoughts are to be banished; they do not come from God, but from the evil foe. Out of pure grace, without any merit of our own, we have been elected in Christ to eternal life. No one can pluck us out of His hand (John 10:29). He has promised this election with words, has certified it with an oath and sealed it with the holy Sacraments.
(paragraphs 12-13)

Condensed quotations from the Lutheran Confessions from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

union, fleshly and spiritual

Study, therefore, to be established in the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles, that so all things, whatsoever you do, may prosper both in the flesh and spirit; in faith and love; in the Son, and in the Father, and in the Spirit; in the beginning and in the end; with your most admirable bishop, and the well-compacted spiritual crown of your presbytery, and the deacons who are according to God. Be subject to the bishop, and to one another, as Jesus Christ to the Father, according to the flesh, and the apostles to Christ, and to the Father, and to the Spirit; that so there may be a union both fleshly and spiritual.
- St. Ignatius of Antioch (Epistle to the Magnesians, Ch. 13; source: newadvent.org)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

help in prayer of others

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” (Matt. 9:2, emphasis added)

“But first of all let us say again what we have said before: That anyone who is sick should seek the help in prayer of others, that they may be restored to health; that through their intercession, the enfeebled frame of our body, the wavering footsteps of our deeds, may be restored to health by the remedy of the heavenly word . . . Great is the Lord, Who pardons some because of the merits of others; and while subjecting some to trials, He forgives others their sins. Why should not the prayer of your fellow-man avail with you, when a servant had both the merit of pleading for another before God and the privilege of obtaining what he prayed for? Learn you who judge, to forgive. Learn you who are sick, to gain health through prayer. Should you be diffident because of your grave sins, seek the prayers of others, call upon the Church to pray for you, and in His regard for her, the Lord will give what He could refuse to you.” - Ambrose (Toal, IV, 182-3)

Homily - Trinity 19

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Unfortunately, many people seem to believe that when they have been catechized, or confirmed, that they have graduated like they are in school. For pastors it is strange to see people who they have taught from divine revelation about the merciful gifts of God to neglect the very things that they have been taught as if they have
outgrown Christ and His Church. How does one outgrow Christ and His gifts? How does one outgrow the holy faith? How does one who is taught of the mysteries of salvation not value the worship of God and the communion of the saints? Is it true, as I was told on one occasion, that we might be saved if we live as we see fit and then repent of all our sins just before we die? No, the Christian does not wait for death to repent. Nor does the Christian see the faith as child’s play. Catechesis, if it is what it is – instruction in the faith – is really a lifelong process. That is, faith always seeks God and what He has to teach us. Catechesis then includes everything that is involved in that teaching and learning. The classes before Holy Baptism, the classes before First Communion and Confirmation, sessions before Holy Matrimony, Sunday School and Adult Classes are only part of a larger whole that includes the Church gathered together in worship. The faith is taught, proclaimed, heard and learned in the Scriptures, the liturgy and the hymnody. Since the faith is the work of God through His Word and means of grace there is no limits of age or understanding. All are gathered together and drawn to Christ and His cross through His Word and the holy Sacraments and are built up in the one true and holy faith. This is why parents and godparents make a public promise to bring their children to the Lord’s house after baptism, why we are taught the value of hearing the Word of God and receiving frequently the blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Learning the Scriptures and the Catechism are only the beginning of delving into the mysteries of things we will not fully understand until the Last Day.

This faith leads us to seek the face of God in Jesus Christ while He may be found. The Catechism summarizes the benefits of eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ in a way that demands faith to understand, “For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.” In these few words we are given a picture of the abundant blessing that the believer receives in the Sacrament through the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of sins is not something we outgrow. The Lord includes it as a main petition in the prayer He taught us. The forgiveness of sins is central to our life with God in Christ and so too our lives with one another. Together with forgiveness there is life and salvation. This is not something we wait for until our deathbed. These blessings are ours beginning in Baptism and are cherished daily in our life in Christ. Forgiveness of sins is found in the proclamation of the Gospel, in the washing of regeneration and in the words of our Lord at the altar. Holy Absolution is applied to believers at the beginning of the liturgy when sins are confessed and when the individual makes confession to the pastor in private. Faith is a daily matter and eternal life is not something we have to wait for. Christ and His gifts are present with His Church. He is in our midst.

Forgiveness flows from God’s mercy in Christ to His Church and then into the world. The Risen Lord breathed His Spirit on Peter and the Apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” The Apostle Paul instructed the young pastor

. . . be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
(1 Timothy 4:12-16)

At the Confession of sins of Christ’s baptized people the pastor announces the grace of God and “in the stead and by the command of [his] Lord Jesus Christ” forgives them “in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We are amazed that God has given such authority to men. Then we are like the paralytic who has been raised. Jesus says, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” Because Jesus is the Son of Man who redeems us we are forgiven indeed and called “sons of God.” Having received God’s forgiveness in Christ we arise and go with His peace into the world. There we are called upon to live in His peace in our vocations, forgiving as He has forgiven us.

Forgiveness is a difficult thing to do. Jesus knew that the scribes doubted Him and accused Him of blasphemy for forgiving the paralytic. He knew what was going on in their hearts. He said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” They knew that only God could forgive sins and yet they did not see that God was there forgiving sins in front of them. Therefore Jesus gives them a sign that His forgiveness is God’s forgiveness. He tells the paralytic, “Arise,” and the man is healed. The miracle is being able to see Christ when He is in the midst of His people. This is possible only by God’s grace in Christ through the eyes of faith. “. . . There is a bodily sign in order to demonstrate a spiritual sign, though its impact is to curb the imperfections of body and soul.” (Jerome, ACCS, 175) When the multitudes saw this they glorified God “who had given such power to men.” The man is able to walk and return to his own house, healed in both body and soul.

It is frightful to face death without having one’s sins forgiven by Christ, for no one returns to the eternal home unless forgiveness of sins has been granted . . . But the reason here for honor offered to God is this: Power was given through God’s Word to humanity for the remission of sins, the resurrection of bodies and the return to heaven. (Hilary, ACCS, 176) Because the Lord is Himself the Resurrection (Ambrose, Toal, IV, 182)

We do not see anything spectacular when a baby is baptized, when a pastor absolves the congregation, when we receive Christ’s Body and Blood at the altar in the bread and wine yet we are invited to trust, as He promises us, that His forgiveness is so real that we can even see and taste it. The crucified and Risen Lord is in our midst and He makes it possible for us to return to our heavenly home. Just as He is risen from the dead and has ascended into heaven so He leads those drawn to Him at the cross to heavenly glory with the Father.

This divine work continues in the Church until the Last Day. We do not graduate from the holy faith in this lifetime. Rather catechesis teaches us to see and receive the blessings that are ours today and every day in Christ Jesus. Christ has placed you and me here in His Church where He chooses to be with us and bless us. He gives His Church both a command and a promise that brings forgiveness of sins and healing of body and soul to those who believe. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” In the holy Church, Christ gives us rest and prepares us for the eternal Sabbath rest that is to come. In the Apostles’ Creed we confess our faith in “the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” These blessings all go together and they are all ours in Christ Jesus who is in our midst. This is true again as we gather at the altar in holy Communion with Him. Through the Church the Lord calls all to communion with Him and the Father and keeps us together with Him in the one true faith. Forgiveness is a difficult thing to do. Yet

In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the
sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead,
and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. (SC, Art. III)

Christ has called you and me to be here in this time and place in the one holy Church. Here He comes to us and freely forgives us with all the mercy that flows from His cross as He promised. He does for us what we neither deserve nor are able to do for ourselves. To Him Who heals us in body and soul and Who enables us to arise and return Home be all glory, now and forever. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

make them to be numbered with Your saints

"For to everyone who believes through the word of the Apostles, the
promise is given for Christ's sake and by the power of this prayer,
that he shall be one body and one loaf with all Christians; that
what happens to him as a member for good or ill, shall happen to
the whole body for good or ill, and not only one or two saints, but
all the prophets, martyrs, apostles, all Christians, both on earth
and with God in Heaven, shall suffer and conquer with him, shall
fight for him, help, protect, and save him and shall undertake
for him such a gracious exchange that they will all bear his
sufferings, want, and afflictions and he partake of all their
blessings, comfort, and joy.... For who can harm or injure a man
who has this confidence, who knows that heaven and earth, and all
the angels and the saints will cry to God when the smallest
suffering befalls him?" (M. Luther, Sermons on John 16-20, 1528)

"...do not doubt that it will be done unto you as the Sacrament
declares, that Christ and all His saints will draw near to you with
all their virtues, sufferings, and graces, to live, work, rest,
suffer, and die with you, and be so fully yours that they have all
things in common with you. If you are willing to practice this
belief and confirm it, you will experience what a rich and joyful
wedding-meal your God has prepared for you on the altar."
(M. Luther, On the Councils and Churches, 1539)